Imaoka Machinao was born in 1925 in Tokyo, and uses his given name for his kiln. He began making Bonsai pots in 1964, and in1972 he moved his kiln to Ito, in Shizuoka. A short 9 years later he had closed that kiln, and passed away in the mid 90s.
Imaoka has had a significant impact on other contemporary potters, especially makers of mame and Shohin pots.
He is recognized for works in celadon, cinnabar, Ruri, and white porcelain pieces, but is considered the master of “apricot skin glaze”(which I refer to affectionately as “brain glaze”)
Imaoka’s Shohin pottery book.
Now, on to the pots!
Apricot Skin Glaze
Kairagi Yu(梅花皮 釉), or Apricot Skin glaze, is a kind of extreme crackle style glaze, where the glaze separates into pieces and puddles, forming an intricate tracing of glaze over the body.
First off, I’d like to thank my friend Gerry Novotny for the stunning images of his Apricot skin glaze Imaoka collection. This is a small portion of those that he has, and it’s still probably the best there is. All of the photos in this section are from Gerry’s collection except the last.
Kairagi Yu can come in many colors, but peach and cream are the most common. Metallic gold, silver, and hematite colors are quite rare, making this collection all the more exceptional.
Four metallic Apricot Skin glazed rounds, showing a variety of textures: flat plates, rounded bubbles, stone like texture, and a rather reptilian skin.A similar trio in Gold Kairagi Yu.
Four different views of a larger gold apricot skin glazed rectangle. The texture is exceptional, and even the underside is glazed. Truly a masterpiece.
A pair of more conventional Kairagi Yu glazed rectangles, both showing excellent patina.
Another pair of taller cascade Kairagi Yu.
This one is fascinating. A taller cascade with two tone apricot skin glaze and panel. Really awesome.
This apricot skin glaze round is perhaps the most commonly seen color, and illustrates why I refer to it as “brain glaze”.This is the only piece in this section not from Gerry’s impressive collection. It’s multi toned Apricot skin glaze makes it worth including.
A five piece boxed set with a nice range of Imaoka Glazes and included stand. Cool small collection.
This two toned small cascade piece is a really wonderful example of Imaoka’s work with cinnabar. A really excellent mix of colors.Another cinnabar glazed piece. The two toned appearance is common for certain glazes, the red side faced the fire in the kiln.A small porcelain piece with cut feet and two small highlights.This porcelain crackle with it’s excellent patina and even craze is quite lovely and easily usable.A similar crackle, this one showing no patina. Still as shiny as the day it was made.Edit
A pair of smaller rounds in cinnabar and porcelain. Both would make for nice Shohin shitakusa.A rarity, for sure. This carved design porcelain Imaoka is one of a kind, which is a shame, as the carvings are very nice.Edit
Another cascade, this one showing a myriad of greens with blue highlights.A really nice canton style blue rectangle with geat depth to the glaze.Another tall cascade in multi toned green and brown.Edit
Two views of a rather exceptionally glazed lipped square. The glaze has a feeling of Namako to it.These cinnabar Edit
swyares with dancer carvings are probably the most common Imaoka one sees around.A very small round with cinnabar and porcelain.And we’ll finish up today’s look at Imaoka with this awesomely glazed cinnabar and porcelain rectangle. Absolutely beautiful.
Thanks for reading! Up next, an article on Kyoto potter Hayashi Mokuu!
Before I let you go, here’s a small plea for assistance. Simon Jones is an English bonsai enthusiast who has been at it for thirty years. A couple of weeks ago, the heater in his greenhouse malfunctioned, burning the building to the ground, and destroying his 30 years of bonsai work, and his hands as well, trying to save what he could. He lost an impressive collection of Shohin and Chuhin native material, along with his tools, and many containers. If you can, I’d urge you to donate an item to help get his collection back on track, contact me for an address, or if you’d like, you can donate to this paypal address:
It’s times like these that bonsai enthusiasts worldwide band together to lend some support and assistance. I have, and hope you will as well.